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Timaru man studies world’s best in composite engineering

Timaru man studies world’s best in composite engineering

It’s been a composite factory production manager’s dream. A month’s work experience on the shop floor of one of the world’s largest composite plants — the monolithic Moulded Fibreglass Group’s plant in Union City, Pennsylvania – has been a valued experience and a technological boost for a Timaru factory.

Covering 50 acres and employing 350 people manufacturing fibreglass products for the United States military, and building trains, cars, planes and wind turbines for world markets, MFG presented to Ryan Blackie of Timaru’s Aeromarine Industries an almost unbelievable scale in composite engineering.

But that was essentially the main difference, he said on his return recently. They actually do many of the same things we do here at our Washdyke factory — “they just do it on a huge scale”.

Mr Blackie visited MFG as a result of becoming one of only two New Zealand recipients of a prestigious 2010 scholarship offered by the New Zealand Craftsman Training Foundation. It meant he could travel anywhere in the world for a four to eight-week period.

To help position Aeromarine for ISO 9001 accreditation, currently being worked towards, and to add strength to the company’s rapidly expanding product and client-base, MFG was “the logical choice”. The United States company, formed in 1948, was once the world’s largest supplier of fibreglass pleasure boats before developing products for the construction, transportation, military and agricultural markets.

On the way to MFG two other events proved equally important to Aeromarine. Mr Blackie’s first stop was Dayton, Ohio, to a world conference on composite engineering. Two days later he visited the North Canton, Ohio, Glasskraft factory that manufactures the tools and equipment in daily use at Aeromarine and around the world.

Mr Blackie says he has learnt new techniques and seen world-leading processes in operation such as compression moulding, where 3000 tons of pressure is applied to a steel mould sandwich forcing out air and squeezing resins to produce precision formed composite parts.

“My experience will help reinforce Aeromarine’s position as a country-leading producer of precision moulded composites for the agricultural and transport and building industries,” Mr Blackie said.

“It will give us the cutting edge.”


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